Apple Silicon and Drauger OS on ARM

A few days ago, Apple announced that they would be moving their Macs to Apple Silicon processors. But what is “Apple Silicon”, and why does it matter to Drauger OS?

Apple Silicon is just a fancy way of referring to Apple’s ARM-based processors like the A12 and the A12Z chips, found in Apple’s latest iPhones and iPads. These processors, by using the ARM64 CPU architecture, have better efficiency, security, and connectivity capabilities than similar Intel or AMD processors. By moving to these processors, Apple is giving their Macs better battery life, thermals, wake/suspend speeds, security, and internet connectivity.

This is great for those who love the Macbook Air or Mac Mini, as well as those who want more battery live in their Macbooks, but how does it affect Drauger OS?

Apple has historically had a huge impact on the direction the computing market is headed. Even though Android had fingerprint-scanners for biometric authentication well before Apple’s TouchID was a thing, when TouchID came out it made it more of a standard feature on Android phones. Even though the Essential Phone had a notch in the top of it’s display before the iPhone X came out, when that iPhone did come out, more and more Android phones where released with notches. The same goes for the loss of the headphone jack on many modern Android phones.

In the laptop space, even though there were thin-and-light laptops before the Macbook Air, these were commonly low-power devices which were not useful for much more than browsing the web and word processing. And, even then they were often under-powered.s But, when the Macbook Air came out with significantly more power than similarly sized laptops shipping with Windows, other OEMs had to step up their game. Now, we see gaming laptops with high-end graphics cards and CPUs crammed into tiny chassis.

Because of these reasons, I suspect that with the release of Macs and Macbooks using ARM processors, more and more Windows laptops will be released running ARM CPUs as well. With more and more of these ARM computers flooding the market, Linux on ARM will also become more popular.

In fact, Linux on ARM is already gaining popularity thanks to Pine 64‘s PineTab, Pinebook Pro, and Pinephone, as well as Purism‘s Librem 5 phone. Raspberry Pi 4‘s are also hugely popular due to their large power in a small package.

Because of all this, I suspect the computer market to be moving to ARM computers slowly, from the low-end to the high-end.

As this transition occurs, we at Drauger OS need to prepare ourselves. So, we have already begun work on Drauger OS on ARM: an initiative to port Drauger OS to as many ARM-based computers as possible, preferably with a single IMG file. This ARM port of Drauger OS will be supported on the same level as Drauger OS on AMD64 and provide a similar experience post-installation.

There’s just one small problem: gaming on ARM is practically non-existent when it comes to Steam and Lutris.

There is one space however, in which gaming on ARM is flourishing: emulation.

Drauger OS’s initial ambitions where for emulation to begin with. It was supposed to be a system that was capable of emulating almost any console provided you had the disk, IMG, ISO, or other ROM for a given game. It was supposed to automaticlly detect what time of ROM or disk was in use and open the appropriate emulator, as if you had multiple game consoles built into one box, with a seamlessly integrated UI. Unfortunately, this idea was scrapped in order to prevent copyright violations.

However, if Drauger OS where to be shipped for ARM as it is now (speaking in terms of included apps and tools, not working state. Drauger OS on ARM is still in very early stages of development and is not even booting yet.), it can still be set up for emulation, or daily use (even though it’s not designed for that), or even triple-A gaming once more triple-A games are ported to ARM. In this way, we are, in a way, returning to our roots.

Will Drauger OS ever run on Apple’s own ARM-based processors? Probably not. Will Apple’s transition provide Drauger OS more games to play in the future, as more games are ported to ARM? Almost certainly.